How White Tongue and Bad Breath are Related?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is identified from an unpleasant odor of the mouth. Often you can’t test your bad breath and thus, it gets difficult for you to identify unless someone else tells you about a foul smell coming from your mouth.

If you are embarrassed to ask another person to smell your breath, then just check the color of your tongue. A white tongue can fairly indicate that you may have bad breath. White tongue and bad breath go hand in hand.


Bad breath can be also a consequence of the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the surface of your teeth over time.

But in short, having a white tongue along is a sign of poor oral hygiene. (1)

Causes for white tongue

White tongue is often a result of poor oral hygiene. Your tongue can turn white when the tiny papillae or taste buds that cover the entire surface of tongue swell up and become inflamed.

Bacteria, food, and dead cells can all get trapped between the inflamed papillae. This collected debris over the surface of your tongue is what turns the tongue white.

Here are some essential causes of the white tongue –

  • Poor brushing and flossing.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Dehydration for an extended period of time.
  • Mouth breathing.
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco.
  • Alcohol addiction.

How can the white tongue be responsible for bad breath?

Most of the bacteria that cause bad breath are mostly found on the tongue. The formation of a white coating is on the tongue is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting entrapped between the enlarged papillae of the tongue. (3)

The back side of the tongue is relatively dry and favorable for bacterial growth because debris and bacteria trap here easily.

Due to the heavy presence of bad breath causing bacteria on your white tongue it’s often observed to be accompanied by bad breath.

Bacteria present on tongue have a distinctive, highly unpleasant smell due to polyamines and volatile sulfur compounds.

How to fix your white tongue as well as bad breath?

In the majority of cases, the bad breath is related with a white tongue and can easily be treated through the simple process of cleaning the tongue thoroughly along with brushing and flossing on a regular basis.

Your tongue is home for various bacteria, and its necessary remove all these bacteria to achieve a fresh breath. Here are some tips you can use to get rid of bad breath and white tongue as well.

  • Scrape your tongue before or after brushing and flossing your teeth.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  • Drink plenty of water and prevent accumulation of bacteria over your tongue.
  • Brush twice a day to keep your breath fresh.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use mouth rinses to achieve a fresh breath even in the middle of the day.
  • Coconut oil pulling is a great way to remove bacteria from the mouth.
  • Aloe Vera juice can be helpful as it has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Consume a proper diet consisting of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Anything that goes inside your mouth, including dentures, a bridge, retainers or a mouth guard, should be cleaned on a daily basis.
  • Avoid onions, garlic, and spicy food.
  • Eating a breakfast that consists of rough foods can help clean the back of the tongue.
  • Visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.

Other causes for bad breath

Most common cause of bad breath or Halitosis is believed to be gingivitis, but there are other factors also which can lead to bad breath. Following are the major causes of bad breath: (2)

  • Poor oral hygiene, if you don’t clean your mouth regularly, then your tongue and gum will trap some bacteria that may cause bad breath.
  • Infections in your mouth.
  • Smoking and using tobacco products can lead to a foul odor of their own.
  • Dry mouth or xerostomia can lead to bad breath because the production of saliva is decreased, and saliva cleanses the mouth by removing bacteria.
  • Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath.
  • Munching on certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices can also cause bad breath.
  • Diseases like gastroesophageal reflux disease can be associated with bad breath.
  • Sometimes, small stones that form in the tonsils are covered with bacteria that produce false odor.
  • During pregnancy, women are very prone to gingivitis which often leads to bad breath.

Final words

When you are having a bad breath then check if your tongue is white. Bad breath is often related to the white tongue. Your white tongue indicates that food debris, bacteria, and dead cells have been trapped between enlarged papillae.

Maintain proper oral hygiene as it can help you prevent a white tongue and many other oral issues. A proper oral hygiene routine is not just about brushing and flossing your teeth but also cleaning your tongue on a regular basis.


The procedure of cleaning tongue and removing bacteria and debris from the surface of the tongue is called tongue scraping and is performed before or after brushing and flossing your teeth.

Mostly presence of white tongue is harmless and can be treated with good oral hygiene and natural remedies, but sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious that must be addressed by a dentist.


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